Canadian Edition 31 Dec 2013 If you have
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The weather had worked against the big boat's they did not get enough of the hard running. For the small boats they got too much south westerly, and then a softening breeze, the passage sweet spot was for the fast mid-size boats.
Darryl Hodgkinson's canting keeler Cookson 50 Victoire has a clear Customs House advantage. She was ninth boat into Hobart's Constitution Dock, finishing less than 3.5 hours behind Grant Wharington's 100 footer Wild Thing and less than two hours behind Matt Allen's new 60 footer Ichi Ban.
Illusion Crosbie Lorimer
Overnight there were just two boats still on the water that for a short while appeared could spoil the party for Darryl Hodgkinson's Victoire, interestingly both previous race winners, the Travis Read skippered David 34 Illusion, the 1988 Sydney Hobart winner and Roger Hickman's Farr 43 Wild Rose, originally Bob Oatley's Wild Oats, which won the 1993 race under IOR.
But in the end the wind gods were on the side of Victoire, not the case for the boat in the last two races.
The canting keeled Cookson 50, which her previous British owner, Chris Bull, raced as Jazz, finished second overall in 2010, fourth overall in 2011 and come very close to an outright win in 2012 but she was beaten by a sleeping river. But this time the breeze stayed in.
It's been a steady rise on the racing scene for the Sydney plastic surgeon who began campaigning a Sydney 38 called No Options in 2003, then moved to a Beneteau 44.7 Vivacite and then his Beneteau 45 Victoire before buying the Cookson 50.
Just two years ago, in December 2011, Hodgkinson was named the CYCA's 2011 Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year. A year ago he was named Ocean Racer of the Year following many successes, including winning the Club's Blue Water Point Score with his previous Victoire, a Beneteau 45.
Hodgkinson recounted the key moments in Victoire's win, 'It was a fairly tough race. When we got that heavy north-easterly, there were moments when we had to believe in ourselves, and our yacht.
We knew this boat had won before, and so we let it run. We knew we were only going to win if we pressed really hard, and we couldn't let our foot off the pedal.
And there were some moments when the foot was right down and it was like ‘oh, this is a ride', and we were thrilled.
‘Of course it was part terror! At one point, we had a Chinese gybe – which was pretty scary – but amazingly we got the boat up and going, and it worked out.
'But we changed our sail plan after that, and were quite surprised with the change from the A4 (headsail) to A6, how we could still maintain the speed. So I think we learned on run, as it were, on that one.'
A similar story to Geoff Boettcher's Secret Men's Business 3.5's 2010 Sydney Hobart victory when a ‘pedal to the metal' hard run produced the overall win.
Generous as ever, Hodgkinson praised his opposition. 'Wild Rose, it was a waiting game – Roger is always a good competitor. Sam Haynes (who finished second overall) was always going to be hot competition.'
Victoire won the race from Phil Simpfendorfer's Victorian yacht Veloce, Celestial (Sam Haynes, NSW) and the German Ker 51 Varuna (Jens Kellinghusen). It also means another 'almost' for Victorian Bruce Taylor in Chutzpah, who finished fourth.